Telhaugs mentor was the artist Ottar Helge Johannessen, who was previously head teacher (1967-1982) at the Norwegian National School of Art and Crafts, gave Telhaug good advice: "One important thing I learned from Ottar Helge Johannessen was to do my thing and never copy."
Dag Telhaug's motifs are taken from Lindesnes, Lista and Jæren where he seeks the open landscape, the bright light, the forces of the sea and the big sky. When painting, he prefers to be outside in front of the subject, trying to capture the moment, mood, colors, and light conditions. He does not like to sit still, and when he paints, it is intensive. Nature changes a little too fast sometimes that's why he paints in acrylic, mostly alla prima (wet in wet).
The boat is often an eye-catcher in Telhaug's paintings. The boat that brings people to a destination, steered or random. It is also used as a symbol of the journey of life that we are all part of. "There's something about the boat motif. If you remove the engine and use sails, the wind can propel you wherever you want. Out at sea, you don't see land anywhere. It's like lying under the starry night. You feel small."
The waves, the horizon, and the high sky above the surface of the water give the sea a changing face. This also gives the mind wings, wonder and questions what lies beyond the line of sight. Even in the dark, if there is only a sliver of light on the horizon, the darkness is not so dark, it gives one hope. If one lives by the sea under a high sky, the blue color often becomes dominant in the paintings. It has so many expressions, the blue with an infinity in it that takes you out into the room and provides contemplation, calm and rest.
Dag Telhaug has participated in solo and group exhibitions all over Norway, and in the USA and Germany. He is purchased by many public and private institutions.
He is strongly inspired by the Skagen painters in Denmark. They were attracted by the bright summer light and the Nordic colours. In Telhaug's oeuvre we see similarities with the Skagen painters' realistic open-air paintings and their intense depictions of light with rich denominations.